Silicon Valley Wonders Why Whitman Never Visits Anymore

CEO turned candidate for governor skips another public forum

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009  |  Updated 1:47 PM PDT
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Silicon Valley Wonders Why Whitman Never Visits Anymore

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Meg Whitman is dissing Silicon Valley again.

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All of California's leading gubernatorial candidates will meet in public for the first time at a September forum in Silicon Valley -- all of them, that is, except conservative ex-eBay CEO Meg Whitman.

With the Republican primary shaping up as a three-way contest between Silicon Valley operatives, the distance between Whitman's campaign and her roots is raising eyebrows.

Whitman's reasons for skipping the event are unclear; according to her campaign, she has a prior engagement in San Diego at a Fortune conference for women in business.

But skipping engagements has become a pattern for Whitman, who bailed on a debate earlier this summer and hasn't committed to a debate in October. She also canceled an eBay fundraiser after employees spoke out against her.

Meanwhile, Whitman's opponents are doing everything they can to maintain their ties to powerful Silicon Valley groups. The biggest advantage is held by Steve Poizner, a wealthy entrepreneur from the valley with a long history of promoting Silicon Valley industry. Tom Campbell, another Valley insider, lacks a competitive fundraising machine but polls well and boasts plenty of fiscal experience.

Then again, maybe Whitman no longer needs the Valley's support; she's proven adept at fundraising, raising many millions more than Gavin Newsom. Of course, much of Whitman's campaign is bankrolled by her own personal fortune.

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